Rummy the romantic

John McCaslin
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Posted: Mar 02, 2004 12:00 AM

A glimpse of the softer side of Donald H. Rumsfeld unexpectedly pops up on page 131 of "Rumsfeld's War" (Regnery Publishing), the new book on the tough-minded defense secretary by Rowan Scarborough, defense and national security reporter for The Washington Times.

Scarborough writes that Rumsfeld surprised his wife, Joyce, on her 70th birthday Sept. 18, 2002, with a book about her consisting of photographs he had compiled and a narrative he wrote. He called it "Joyce Rumsfeld: A Joy to the World," had it printed in brown hardcover and gave copies to the couple's three children and other family members.

"Don told me, 'There will be many books about me and nobody is going to write a book about Joyce,'" a family friend confided to Scarborough. "In the midst of all this, I think it's the most touching thing I've ever heard. He had a million other things to think about and to do, and I know very few men who would have taken the time and effort to do something like that."

AGE DISCRIMINATION

"Children of all ages are welcome to attend, as long as there is at least one child 7 years old or under and no more than two adults per group," the White House stresses of this year's annual Easter Egg Roll, to be held Monday, April 12, on the South Lawn of the White House.

TWEEDLEDEE

Why should anyone pay attention to Constitution Party presidential candidate Michael Peroutka?

"We'll probably be on more state ballots than Ralph Nader," says the candidate, who has nicknamed President Bush and the four remaining Democratic presidential hopefuls "Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber."

NOTHING'S FREE

The latest roundup of outrageous federal spending, including taxpayer-funded limousines for Jennifer Lopez and other USO concerts - even though federal guidelines require luxury expenses be paid out of private donations - has infuriated one Republican lawmaker.

Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling quotes a current Washington Waste Watchers summary of how the General Accounting Office has uncovered roughly $433,000 in "inappropriate expenses" that the USO has charged to the Pentagon over a two-year period.

"The charges were for alcohol, limousines and first-class airplane tickets in conjunction with concerts performed by Jennifer Lopez, Kid Rock, Ja Rule and others," it states. "In one instance, the Pentagon paid MTV $343,910 for 'production expenses' at the Lopez concert."

SUMMON THE SCULPTOR

A Republican has led a successful campaign to erect a statue of a Democrat on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol.

Late last year, state Senate Majority Leader Bill Stephens, a Republican, pre-filed a resolution to honor "one of Georgia's most notable political figures" - Sen. Zell Miller, a Democrat.

"Sen. Miller's public service accomplishments rival any of those individuals now honored at the Capitol," the Republican argued, days after Georgia's Democratic Party removed Miller's name and picture from its Web site after he had spoken unkindly of his party's focus and direction.

The Republican leader said he decided the state's highest-ranking Democrat deserved such an honor after former President Jimmy Carter condemned Georgia's former Gov. Roy Barnes for appointing Miller to the Senate upon the death of Sen. Paul Coverdell.

Stephens makes clear that he was an aide to Lt. Gov. Miller during legislative sessions in the 1980s, and became his director of communications during the 1990 gubernatorial campaign. And, yes, the Republican's mother, Barbara Stephens, mayor of Morganton, attended school with Miller at Young Harris College.

State senators, however, saw no conflict of interest - overwhelmingly approving the erection of Zell Miller's statue by a vote of 49-1.

SHARING THE POT

The first federal political action committee that focuses on the medicinal-marijuana issue has made its first-ever campaign contributions to a bipartisan bunch battling it out in closely contested races.

"This is the next step in the evolution of medical marijuana as a political issue," says Steve Fox, director of government relations for the new Marijuana Policy Project Medical Marijuana PAC in Washington, whose mission is to support candidates who work to ensure that physician-approved patients have legal access to medicinal marijuana - and to oppose officeholders who work against such protections.

Recipients of contributions are Republican Reps. Bob Beauprez of Colorado and Jon Porter of Nevada, and Democratic Reps. Michael H. Michaud of Maine, Timothy H. Bishop of New York, and Rick Larsen of Washington. In addition, pot money is going to Democrat Paul Babbitt of Arizona, who is running against Republican Rep. Rick Renzi.

UPDATED LIST

The Democratic National Committee is going to extreme lengths to keep Education Secretary Rod Paige's description of the National Education Association - "a terrorist organization" - on the front-burner of the 2004 presidential campaign.

Calling for Mr. Paige to resign for offering his personal opinion (as if his fellow educators in this country don't opine before our children on a daily basis), the DNC has actually printed the State Department's current list of foreign terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, Hamas, Shining Path, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and now - or so the Democrats contend in writing - 3 million U.S. teachers.

NAME THAT UNION

Jennifer Leischer, communications associate for the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, invites readers of this column to participate in a contest announced in the latest Fordham Foundation weekly education newsletter, the Education Gadfly:

"True, (Education Secretary) Rod Paige should not have called the National Education Association 'a terrorist organization.' Given the times in which we live, the middle word in that phrase might have been better chosen. (How about 'hostile,' 'disgraceful,' 'selfish,' 'anti-child'?)

"But we're cheered by Paige's frequently memorable turns-of-phrase and his stubborn insistence on calling a spade what it is rather than a teaspoon. Such character is in short supply in Washington. Already, the education secretary gets credit for the best line in recent political memory, when he described the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) opposition as 'a coalition of the whining.'

"In honor of this transformation of mild-mannered educator into take-no-prisoners warrior, we'd like to sponsor a contest for the best description of the NEA. Is it a union of mass destruction? A group of dead-enders? Don't limit yourself to war-on-terror comparisons; let your creative juices flow.

"Gadfly serves as judge, with points given for wit, style, and economy of phrasing. Multiple entries are encouraged. Author of the best description gets his or her name in next week's issue and a much-desired Fordham T-shirt. Send your entries to backtalk@edexcellence.net ."